Do you feel like you try your best and work hard, but you’re just not good enough? Thinking that somehow you should do more or be more?
If so, you’re not alone.
We live in a society that often forces us to compare ourselves to others. For example, if we don’t make a certain amount of money, get married by a certain age or look and act like the people around us, we may feel like there’s something wrong with us. We may feel like we’re not enough as we are.
Amid all of this self-doubt, it’s easy to totally disregard all the wonderful, unique things about yourself. And that’s a huge mistake. To transform all of those bad feelings and discover your true worth, you’ll need to do some serious inner work.
Low self-esteem often stems from deep-rooted issues that were planted in you long ago. It can be painful to dig up those feelings, but by acknowledging why you’re feeling like you’re not good enough—and fighting through it—you can reconnect with your true purpose.
When you’re thinking, “I’m not good enough,” we recommend first understanding why you feel that way. The next step is working through those feelings. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
Discover the Real Reason Why You Don’t Feel Good Enough
Think about the last time you faced rejection. Maybe it was at a job interview, in a pitch meeting or while having a conversation with a friend. Mentally, you may have tried to move on from that rejection—as you should! But emotionally, that “no” might still sting.
When you make changes or come to terms with things, you usually take a cognitive leap of understanding first. It can take your heart a bit of time to catch up. Freeing yourself from something emotionally is a journey of recovery that doesn’t happen overnight.
This means that sometimes, your head and your heart can be saying two different things about events that happened long in your past. And that message of, “I’m not good enough,” has lived inside you ever since.
To accept that you are more than your self-doubts, you’ll need to discover where these feelings are coming from in the first place.
Core Beliefs Sabotaging Your Self-Esteem
Those negative thoughts you hear in your head? They’re nothing compared to the pessimism lurking in your subconscious.
That might sound scary at first, but hear us out: The false assumptions you make about yourself, others and the world are mistaken as facts in your subconscious. These false assumptions become your “core beliefs.”
You unwillingly base the majority of your life around your core beliefs.
Unfortunately, your core beliefs are often formed as a child, and they were formed with your simple, child-like perspective. So, they can be surprisingly dramatic and untrue—think of the Boogieman or the Tooth Fairy. But unlike the Tooth Fairy, you didn’t learn to dismiss these beliefs. Instead, you held onto them tight.
If you convinced yourself you weren’t good enough at an early age, your negative self-talk could have followed you around for years. And it could still be impacting your self-confidence and causing self-doubt! It’s time to learn to let go of these limiting beliefs.
Your Immediate Circle is Too Critical
Sometimes, your ideas about not being good enough don’t stem from you at all. In fact, your negative thoughts about yourself may be implanted by other people. Unhealthy relationships with toxic people can bring you down no matter how hard you try to rise.
Get this straight: People who belittle you when you make mistakes are not your friends. People who dampen your self-worth are not your friends.
Bad friendships can take the shape of not being excited for the kind of things that fill you with joy, like landing a job interview or scoring a hot date. Toxic relationships can also take the shape of constant negativity in your ear.
If you’re surrounded by your friends’ negative thoughts, you can start believing you’re not good enough (before you even try). Do yourself a favor and look for people who’ll take you to your next level instead of hold you back.
Your Main Caregiver Didn’t Fulfill Your Needs
It’s only natural for human beings to have needs. One of the most basic of these is love. We seek approval and love from an early age. But not all children have parents who can fulfill those needs.
Perhaps your caregiver was an alcoholic or suffered from depression. Maybe they were around physically but never offered emotional support. Or maybe your caregiver didn’t know how to express their feelings of love and approval to you.
No matter the details, a child who doesn’t feel like they’re good enough for their parents will often grow up to feel like they’re not good enough in general. This feeling of not being enough can follow the child for their whole life until they learn to stop the cycle.
If you didn’t receive the love and approval you needed growing up, you can make that change today.
You’ve Experienced Trauma in the Past
Trauma—emotional, physical or mental—can leave a lasting impression. As children, we often feel responsible for the trauma life inflicts on us. For example, it’s common for children to believe they’re the cause of their parents’ divorce.
As adults, we still tend to blame ourselves when things hurt us. Being fired from a job or ending a relationship can both be traumatic events. We think we should’ve been smarter, worked harder or have known how to stop the event from happening. These feelings can wreak havoc on your self-esteem.
You must learn to let go of trauma that was not your fault.
Social Media has Warped Your Perception of “Good Enough”
We like to call social media the land of warped reality over here. Don’t get us wrong, social media can be a wonderful tool to connect with friends and family or grow your network. But in a world full of “LinkedIn Gurus” and “Instagram Influencers,” you cannot believe everything you see online.
The reality is, no one is perfect. Every human being faces hardships, both in their personal and professional lives. The facade you see on social media is just that: a facade.
You’re only ever looking at a small preview of other people’s lives, and it’s what they choose to show you. Their social media facade doesn’t need to impact your life. Between the filters and the exaggerated captions, don’t let this warped reality negatively impact your mental health.
How to Fight Feeling Like You’re Not Good Enough
We’ve all had those days when all you can think is, “Am I good enough?” From buried insecurities to super-critical friends, countless factors can negatively impact your self-esteem.
The next time your brain sends the message, “I’m not good enough,” fight back with these activities.
Dig Deep to Find Your Why
We’ve all faced hardships in our past, and some of us are still facing trying times:
Bombed job interviews.
Failed at relationships.
Felt bullied or judged.
Ask yourself why do you feel like you specifically aren’t good enough? What’s signaling this “I’m not good enough” mentality? Is it your skills? Your personality? What is it that’s glaringly wrong?
Find your answer, but don’t stop there. Now, ask yourself again: Why do you feel like that’s not good enough? What is it about that, that isn’t up to par? Keep asking yourself “why” until you reach what caused all these ideas in the first place.
More often than not, the answer is a deep-rooted core belief that is far from true. The faster you can find and work through those negative thoughts, the faster you can put yourself back into a positive mindset.
Use Journaling as an Outlet for Negative Emotions
Sometimes with negative emotions, the only way out is through. That means that instead of avoiding why you feel like you’re not good enough, you channel your energy back into working through them.
Journaling is a mindfulness technique that can help you find the roots of your insecurities, so you can weed them out for good. Dean recommends outcome journaling, which you can try for yourself with the Better Life Journal.
Dean himself went through dozens of uncertain and chaotic times, working in a car repair shop, trying to pay his bills and questioning if he was good enough. Through outcome journaling, you can work through negative thoughts and prioritize your thoughts to create a culture of achievement, just like Dean did.
Practice Self-Love and Be Your Own Biggest Fan
COVID-19 made life murky, to say the least, but one positive thing the pandemic has provided is more time alone with our thoughts. In the hustle of the daily grind, we can often lose sight of who we are or what we want to do.
We think about our SMART goals and business plans, but we don’t always think about ourselves on a regular basis. When you begin to feel like you’re not good enough, use it as a moment to become reacquainted with yourself.
What are your strengths and skills? What do you love about your personality?
Remind yourself of these positive qualities that are unique to you and you alone. Become your own biggest fan because no one else will do that for you.
Try the Basketball Technique
When self-doubt creeps in, try the basketball technique. In this activity, imagine yourself carrying a big bag of basketballs over your shoulder. These are your insecurities.
There are dozens of balls in the bag—but the majority don’t actually belong to you. Throughout the years, you’ve adopted the insecurities from your caregivers, partners and/or friends.
One by one, take each ball out of the bag. Say to yourself, “This is not my problem to address. I am carrying my mother’s sadness. I am carrying my friend’s troubles. This is not mine to bear.”
Slowly but surely, you’ll realize that your bag is empty. Lighten your load so you can focus on healing, moving forward and reconnecting with your purpose.
Recognize Trigger Words or Patterns
Even though none of us want to admit it, we each have things about us that we don’t like. There are just certain aspects of ourselves that trigger negative thoughts. Maybe you don’t like your smile, or you think your laugh sounds weird.
When you begin feeling like you’re not good enough, chances are, those same negative thoughts come back tenfold. It’s important to recognize those thought negative patterns and make an effort to replace them with positive thoughts. The next time you feel your triggers, remind yourself of the strengths, skills and character traits that make you, you.
Remind Yourself of Everything You’ve Overcome
Are you ready for a big self-esteem game-changer? Here it is: You already have every tool you need to overcome whatever life throws at you. The secret is in believing that you can.
When your self-worth takes a hit, remind yourself of 3 times you’ve overcome adversity. Or, list 5 times you did something you thought you couldn’t do, no matter how small it may seem.
There are seriously so many things in life to be grateful for, and a lot of them wouldn’t be possible without your hard work and determination. Remember to think of the attributes you used along the way, like your skills, humor or strength. Those characteristics got you through then, and they can now.
Silence Your Inner Critic Today
Not feeling good enough is more common than you might think. Everyone doubts their capabilities now and again. But now, it’s time for you to stand up for yourself.
You are more than worthy of every good thing that comes your way. Stop seeking validation from others and stop listening to what negative people think of you. Instead, look within. When you dig deep, you’ll see you were good enough all along.